Belgium vs Hungary. The winner would face Wales, so I watched with great interest.
In this kind of situation you want both teams to look poor, play extra time (so they’re more tired) and the winning side to pick up several cards and minor injuries so they are weakened when you face them.
This didn’t happen though, instead it was a decent showing from both, decided in 90 and Belgium, the victors, emerged looking strong.
They started well with good attacking moves and took the lead after ten minutes from a good headed goal from Toby Alderweireld. For the rest of the first half Belgium put on pressure but a brave Hungarian defence kept them back.
Belgium boast a squad full of talent most noticeably Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, who hit the crossbar with a sensational free kick.
Hungary had their own attempts but lacked a cutting edge up front and the game was open and entertaining. The second half saw more of the same, although the Belgians began to look more impressive.
As they chased a second they showed quick, fluid passing and were dangerous on the counter. Hungary gave a gritty display, holding them off, but it seemed unlikely that they could hold for the rest of the game and their own attacks didn’t threaten enough.
With twelve minutes remaining the Belgians got their second goal, effectively killing off the match. A corner was half cleared to Hazard, who knocked the ball past the defence and then whipped it across the face of goal, allowing substitute Michu Batshuayi to score with his first touch.
Hazard the bagged one of his own a minute later, after a quick counter worked the ball upfield. He ran in from the wing, running at defenders before blasting in from just inside the box.
Three-nil seemed harsh on the Hungarians who had worked hard for almost 80 minutes, but Belgium showed no mercy. And a minute into added time Yannick Carrasco found the net and the scoreline was a rout.
In the end the class of the Belgian team won out and they dominated throughout, should they come into the match against Wales in similar confident form the tournament may well be over for us. Hazard and De Bruyne will pose the defence considerable problems, and while he was frustrated here, Romelu Lukaku is a dangerous presence up front.
Belgium set out their stall and after this type of performance they have to be regarded as one of the main contenders, and definitely the strongest looking team in their half of the tournament.
It was an entertaining match, but a worrying one for a Welsh fan.
Round of 16 Round up:
Poland and Switzerland went to penalties and Arsenal’s new £34m Swiss signing missed, meaning Poland advance to face Portugal.
Portugal progressed after beating Croatia 1-0 in a game which should be prescribed to insomniacs.
After a good group campaign Slovakia were sent home as the Germans thrashed them 3-0. The Germans will face the winner of the Italy vs Spain game this afternoon.
Today’s other match sees England take on Iceland, the tournament underdogs. The winner will face France after the hosts came back after an early scare against the Republic of Ireland to win 2-1.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.